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Product, Service & Design Innovation

The latest products, services, design approaches and business models that are helping organizations of all sizes deliver on their sustainability ambitions and establish a new business as usual.

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Forget the Recycling Bin – If All Goes Well, You’ll Soon Be Able to Eat Your Water Bottle

The latest innovation in the fight against plastic water bottles comes in the form of an edible and flexible water “blob” container called the Ooho!, made by startup Skipping Rocks Lab. To use it, consumers can bite the blob and suck out the contents or eat the entire thing, casing and all.Asking people to carry around their own water bottles and containers has had limited success; unfortunately, it is often just more convenient to buy and drink from a disposable container. The Ooho! claims to offer that convenience without introducing more plastic into the waste stream.

Startup Hoping to Turn Computers Into Primary Source of Heat Generation

New York City-based tech startup Project Exergy is one step closer to developing a technology capable of heating smart homes using computers, following a successful crowdfunding campaign.The concept involves transferring the computation done in data centers into millions of home and office computers and putting the normally wasted heat to use through a liquid cooling system that can efficiently extract and thermally store the high-temperature heat.

Optimizing Your Sustainability Roadmap: Lessons from Product Development Portfolio Management

As sustainability management becomes ever more closely linked to company resilience and reputation, CSR goals are coming into sharper focus for companies that are truly on the journey. But there are many choices to be made among a broad range of sustainability initiatives that could achieve those goals; just as in the world of product development, where there is an unlimited number of possible new product ideas and features, there will always be too many ideas and not enough resources. So how do you prioritize your company’s sustainability initiatives for maximum value and impact?

Banks Now Realizing Importance and Potential for Water Investments

According to the World Economic Forum, water scarcity ranks first among all long-term risks worldwide. Australia, Brazil and the United States are only a few examples of where droughts have affected everything from agriculture, hydropower and those everyday tasks most of take for granted. California’s annual snowpack this year was only 12 percent of normal — which has had a huge impact on the state’s skiing industry as well as its growing dairy sector. Finding solutions has proven to be a political minefield.

Worn Again Joins Forces with H&M, Kering to Create Circular Resource Model for Textiles

After years of searching for a solution to the worldwide problem of textile waste, pioneering textile upcycler Worn Again has joined forces with fashion retailer H&M and luxury, sport & lifestyle group Kering to bring to market a revolutionary innovation in clothing production and recycling.

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Key Steps for Successfully Engaging Consumers to Eat Sustainably

Everyday conversations about food are shifting from questions about whether to eat gluten or saturated fat to a new era in consumer food choices: sustainable diets. Some of this focus stems from recent findings reported by the federal government linking dietary choices to environmental impact and is bolstered by consumers’ awareness that their choices affect both their health and the environment. Consumers have long been seeking healthy food options and now the majority of consumers state that they intend to make changes in their diet for environmental reasons.

UN Refugee Agency Buys 10,000 of IKEA's Lightweight 'Better Shelters'

IKEA has announced that its line of flat-pack refugee shelters are going into production after being tested among refugee families in Ethiopia, Iraq and Lebanon.The “Better Shelter” is a temporary shelter with an expected lifespan of three years — far longer than conventional refugee shelters, which last about six months. Delivered in flat packs, it is designed with special attention to transport volume, weight, price, safety, health and comfort, and it can be assembled on site without additional tools and equipment. It also has a solar panel and lamp to provide light during the dark hours.

Multitude of Mindfulness Apps Making Mental Health on the Go More Manageable

If you doubt the mainstreaming of mindfulness, look no further than a key session at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, called Mindfulness Meditation.It’s a new era, where technology can directly measure and influence our moods, attitudes and behavior, which when woven together into a societal tapestry, could be a Trojan Horse for a more sustainable ethos.

Hitting the Bull’s-Eye With Your Product Sustainability Program

It can be daunting to ramp up a sustainability program. This is especially the case when moving from an operations focus, where most programs start, to successfully leveraging the many opportunities associated with product materials and sourcing, design, and production. Yet companies that take aim at their products and measure, improve, and communicate the environmental and social attributes across the life cycle are able to achieve significant improvements that dwarf those they could realize otherwise.

EILEEN FISHER Says 'No Excuses' in Drive Towards 100% Sustainability by 2020

International fashion brand EILEEN FISHER has announced its new Vision2020 campaign, detailing the strides it plans to take in the next five years to attain 100 percent sustainability in its practices.

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Sustainable Aquaculture Innovations Transform Global Fisheries and Address Supply Challenges

Aquaculture has quickly grown from a minor, niche industry into an industrialized and modern one, and sustainability is at the center of many innovations on how to make this arena a long-term and thriving success. Output for food production from aquaculture has surpassed that of wild capture fisheries and today, more than 50 percent of seafood imported into the US is farm-raised. When you couple that with the fact that 90 percent of our seafood is imported from all corners of the world, you begin to realize the enormous role that aquaculture plays in feeding the world.

Sprouts Farmers Market: A Case Study in Capturing the Loyalty of Discriminating Millennials

The financial landscape is rapidly changing thanks to new guests who have recently pulled up a seat at the investment table: Millennials.The generation has come into its own, with well-earned spending and investment power that it wields with great discretion. Millennials are placing their capital differently than previous generations, and they often demand that their investments meet socially progressive criteria. The nation’s first socially networked generation is eager for opportunities that are equally focused on generating returns and strengthening a more responsible bottom line.

Sustainability Comes at a Premium: Creating a Race to the Top Through the Luxury Goods Market

Is it really possible for both businesses and the planet to thrive while providing people with the luxury goods and experiences they want?Luxury has always been a key component of international trade. We have historical records and archaeological evidence across several millennia of human history, showing the importance of items such as porcelain, silk, furs, wine, jewellery, fragrances and spices.There is every indication that human demand will continue for the positional goods and experiences that display status and wealth: travel to exotic locations, perfumes with exquisite smells, foods that taste delicious, or objects that look beautiful. But meeting this demand creates a consumption challenge.

#ThrowBackThursday: Akwamag Moves Beyond Softening to Become One-Stop Shop for Water Purification

In the lead-up to this year’s Sustainable Brands Innovation Open — our competition for startups poised to make scalable, sustainable impacts — we’re catching up with some of our favorite game-changing solutions from past years. This week, we have an update from SBIO 2014 finalist AkwaMag.

New York Startup Wants to Clean Up the Hudson River One Pool at a Time

Taking a dip in the Hudson River typically is not something New Yorkers would advise — centuries of city sewage discharges have left the river toxic and harmful to human health. Although public policies aimed at cleaning up the Hudson have improved conditions over the past several decades, leftovers from past pollution remain, and new problems are becoming evident.

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Levi's Has Saved 1B Liters of Water Through Its Water<Less Process — Now It's Asking You to Wash Less

Levi Strauss and Co. today announced it has saved one billion liters of water since 2011 through its Water&lt;Less™ process, which reduces the water used in garment finishing by up to 96 percent. This announcement coincides with the release of LS&amp;Co.’s new Product Lifecycle Assessment (LCA), an update on the company’s groundbreaking 2007 study on the environmental impact of its products.

JetBlue's New Mentoring Program Helping Small, Responsible Food Companies Get Off the Ground

JetBlue Airways recently launched its first business mentoring program, called BlueBud (buddies + budding new companies), which will offer small and startup responsible food companies an opportunity to get their businesses off the ground (pun intended) and their products onboard commercial aircraft.BlueBud offers mentorship to small food companies that are creating unique and novel concepts, helping them to connect with a diverse group of customers and maintain responsible practices. Participants will get special access to JetBlue's business leaders, who will offer participants access to the airline's unique product development culture, as well as valuable industry insights.

UCS: 40% Less Fuel Use by Heavy Duty Trucks, Creating $30B in Savings, Feasible with Existing Technology

Ahead of the release of a new heavy duty truck fuel-efficiency standard from the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration this spring, a new Union of Concerned Scientists study, released this week, says new fuel efficiency standards for heavy duty trucks should require at least a 40 percent decrease in fuel use, and shows the target is achievable with existing technology and would result in billions of dollars in fuel cost savings.

World’s First Solar-Powered Plane Making Its Way Around the Globe

Single-seat, solar-powered plane, Solar Impulse 2 successfully completed the second leg of its five-month journey around the planet, after touching down in Ahmedabad, India on Tuesday.The journey began successfully after a 13-hour flight from Abu Dhabi to Muscat, Oman. “The flight went really well, everything went as planned,” said a team spokesperson of the first flight. This is but a small step (about 270 miles) on the 20,000-mile journey that will take about 500 hours of flying time. Pilot André Borschberg flew the first leg, while his partner Bertrand Piccard took the second leg.

#ThrowBackThursday: Amazi Will Not Only Lead You to Water, It Will Tell You What's in It

In the lead-up to this year’s Sustainable Brands Innovation Open — our competition for startups poised to make scalable, sustainable impacts — we’re catching up with some of our favorite game-changing solutions from past years. This week, we have an update from SBIO 2014 finalist and Target Award winner Amazi.

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